July 15, 2018, by Kathryn McAuley
Santander EA18 Awards – pitching for the win
Entering the Santander EA18 Awards has been a great experience already. Doing the pitch really forced us to focus on producing a concise and compelling business proposition. All the feedback has been really helpful and we’re looking forward to the finals now!” – Seb Kummle, Director, Citylife UK
Santander EA18 Awards
Two start-up businesses based in the Ingenuity Lab at the University of Nottingham had a very successful day recently, when they had the opportunity to pitch for funding in the Santander EA18 Awards. One business, Citylife UK, won their pitch and are now proceeding to the final. The other business, Halalivery, impressed the judges and gained a great deal of experience through taking part. We spoke to them both about the experience.
Citylife UK pitch wins through to finals
Citylife UK provides a ‘home from home’ for international students studying in the UK, by providing welcome guides, events, trips and even housing. Seb Kummle, Director, thought of the concept from his own experience arriving from Germany to study his Masters in Business & Management. “Most international students want to learn about the UK and integrate with the culture but it’s not always that simple when you are both student and tourist. Citylife UK is the answer to that problem.”
The Citylife team, along with other entrants, initially applied for the Santander EA18 Awards with a 2 minute video, from which the semi-finalists were selected. For the pitch, they prepared a 5 minute presentation and had 5 minutes in which to field questions from the panel. It was Seb’s first time pitching for external investment, so even though Citylife has been trading for over 2 years, he found it challenging to reduce all his knowledge of the business into 5 minutes. Once the presentation was ready, Seb practiced continually, in front of friends and family, and then in front of management of the Ingenuity Lab, which includes experienced entrepreneurs.
The most useful feedback Seb got from the panel was surprising – they told him to be ‘less professional’! By which they meant the content was great but he was not really showcasing his personality – and investors need to buy into the person as much as the idea.
The next stage of the competition is a 3 day ‘accelorator’ in London where they and the other 11 finalists will receive further mentoring and time to hone their business pitch before presenting to the Santander board.
Halalivery pitch for start-up business
Rawan Abu Ishira, Founder and Director of Halalivery, found the whole experience of pitching for the Santander EA18 Awards quite liberating. “When we were selected, the Ingenuity Lab offered us 2 professional training sessions, with senior lab management and one of the Entrepreneurs in Residence to give us feedback. This was so useful, as it provided us with an objective viewpoint from people experienced in real businesses. We took the feedback on board and worked on our pitch every evening to get really familiar with it.”
“The feedback was so useful and included making sure that we could pitch the business idea in 30 seconds – if it takes longer, it’s probably too complicated! Another thing we worked on was learning to relax, slow down and speak clearly – I can get nervous when presenting, and tend to speak too quickly. One of the most important things I learnt was that it’s fine to make mistakes: no-one is expecting you to be perfect but be confident that you know more than anyone else in the room and speak clearly”.
Taxi driver helped our pitch prep!
“Funnily, the taxi driver on the way to the meeting was asking us about Halalivery and it was a great opportunity to get us into the zone before the pitch!”
Halalivery is the UK’s first on-line Halal delivery platform that serves consumers, on-demand delivery application that connects them with Halal restaurants, butcheries and grocery stores. It also provides a bulk-buying mechanism for small restaurants and shops – sending orders weekly so as to save vendors money.
Santander has held this annual business pitching competition since 2011. These awards are aimed at giving a financial boost to student and graduate business ventures in their early stages from UK partner universities. Participants can win a range of prizes including seed funding, mentoring and start-up support.
If you’re a University of Nottingham student or alumni, become an Ingenuity Lab member and develop your entrepreneurial idea, with full support. It could be you pitching next year!